This week we’re going to continue with: How to hook your reader on the first page! To review, two weeks ago we talked about the HOOK, and how the hook needs to be SHARP.
This week, let’s take a closer look at that first element of crafting your HOOK.
S = Stakes – Making them big, scary and intimate
Why does it matter? This is the question every reader is going to ask themselves, if not verbally, then underneath it all, as they’re reading. Why, indeed, should I spend my time reading this book? Stakes don’t have to be as epic as Red October (saving the world from a cold war weapon), or Independence Day (saving the world from an alien invasion), or even a cultural level (Erin Brockovich – saving a town from toxic water) but can be on a more intimate personal level. (i.e., Somersby – honor versus self-preservation). Stakes are what is going to drive your reader through the story, whether they are personal or public, and hinting at them in the beginning will give your reader “something to fight for.”
There are two kinds of stakes: Public and Private. This week, we’ll talk about PUBLIC STAKES
Public stakes have much to do with public values. For example, during WW2, the public value was very much protecting our country and banding together to fight the wars. So, stories about espionage, and battle were popular stakes in books and movies.
However, as time has changed, so have our values.
Today, personal freedom, and family have taken over as the chief collective stakes of today. We still have issues of national security, (which is why shows like 24 are so popular, but even within those issues, it’s shows like Army Wives, the life behind the war that captures people.).
When stakes involve our freedoms and safety as Americans, or members of a family, it makes for a compelling story.
One example is “Saving Private Ryan.” Even the main character – Tom Hanks – realizes the power of family within the great backdrop of the war as he fights to bring home Private Ryan to his devastated mother.
Ask yourself…is the issue in the story pertinent to the public values? Does it touch the heart of all of us? Does it tap into the American Dream?
Ask yourself…what matters to me? If it matters to you, then it matters to others. What’s the worst thing you could think of happening to you? Then others fear that also. And that’s where you find your public stakes.
Join us next week when we talk about PRIVATE STAKES!
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